A Socially Conscious Chili-Maple Glazed Salmon for Thanksgiving

November 24, 2020.  You lovely ladies have been challenging me since day one- whether it was “one more “Underdog!”, “one more “Timber!” (more on Underdogs and Timbers after the recipe) or “one more hour before bed time!” – but now your challenges have become much more intellectual.  For example, you both have recently “suggested” we not celebrate Thanksgiving given how it has historically misrepresented our country’s treatment of Native Americans.  I’ll admit, my Daddey Senses (misspelling intentional) had my eyes rolling at this and wondering why we have to protest and/or boycott just about everything since you’ve been away at college (or university for our Canadian friends), but, like any good parent, I put that aside to consider what you had to say.  While I definitely see your point, I would also suggest we move in a more positive direction and continue to celebrate our family and that for which we are thankful and by also making the effort to recognize and support Native Americans.  So this recipe, which features food given to us by Native Americans and provides links to Native American food businesses to purchase the related ingredient, is inspired by a Time Magazine article written by a Native American who gives his perspective on the holiday. In the end, he concludes, “There is no need to make Thanksgiving about a false past. It is so much better when it celebrates the beauty of the present.”

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time:  15 minutes

Servings: 4-6

Get Your Stuff Out.

Chili-Maple Syrup.

  • 1/4 cup good maple syrup– not Log Cabin!
  • 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Succotash. 

  • 3 cups of cooked wild rice
  • 2-3 cups cooked white beans and/or wheat berries
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups of frozen corn

Salmon.

  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon 
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • kosher salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Cook and Play.  

You probably don’t want to play Indian Reservation by Paul Revere and the Raiders, which may be considered racist by today’s standards; even though it was ahead of its time as a protest over the treatment of Native Americans when it came out back in the 70s (before the term Indian was deemed offensive), while you cook, but you might enjoy Stadium Pow Wow by A Tribe Called Red instead.

  1. Set up a rack in the middle of your oven and another rack about 8 inches from the broiler and preheat that oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Chili-Maple Syrup.  Mix maple syrup, hot sauce and red pepper flakes in a small bowl- give it a taste and adjust heat as you like.  Feel free to make another portion and pour into a separate bowl to serve on the side of the salmon.
  3. Succotash.  In the center of a large gratin dish or rimmed baking sheet, artfully arrange wild rice, beans, peppers, onion and corn. 
  4. Salmon.  Season both sides of salmon with salt and pepper, place it, skin side down, over the succotash mixture and liberally brush or spoon top of salmon with Chili-Maple Syrup- not too much as it will run off into succotash.  As you glaze the salmon while it cooks, a nice layer of caramelized syrup will build up to make it all good.  Drizzle wine around vegetables not covered by the salmon.
  5. Place salmon on the middle rack of the oven, basting with chili-maple syrup every few minutes.  After about 8 minutes, turn the oven broiler to high, rotate the salmon pan and place salmon on the top oven rack. Broil until you see some nice charring (I like a nice char) and the center of the salmon is about 125-135 degrees, about 4-6 more minutes.  If the char on the salmon is getting a little to “charry” for your liking (you should watch your salmon as it broils to make sure the glaze doesn’t burn) and the salmon isn’t fully cooked- just turn the oven to 300 and let it go until it’s cooked.  Keep in mind the thickness of your salmon will affect your cooking time, so let the internal temperature of the salmon and your view on food safety and flavor by your guide.
  6. If you made extra Chili Maple Syrup, serve it on the side with the salmon.

Veganize It!  You could simply omit the salmon and up the rice, beans and veggie content, drizzling some of the syrup over everything for a vegan main, but if you want a little more, and why wouldn’t you for Thanksgiving, try this! 

Chili Maple Glazed Tofu

  • 2- 15 ounce blocks firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup Tofu Fry Spice (mix up 1/2 cup of rice flour or cornstarch, 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 2 teaspoon garlic powder and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of canola or other neutral oil
  • 1/4 cup Chili-Maple Syrup from above
  1. Turn each block of tofu on its side to cut 1/3″ planks- you should have about 12 planks per block .  Use kitchen towels to press out the flavorless water from tofu- it won’t take long.
  2. Pour Tofu Fry Spice in a shallow pan and dust spice mix over tofu, shaking off excess once you’re ready to fry.
  3. Once again, you’ll be cooking in batches.  Preheat a large non stick (yes, this time you want non stick) sauté pan over medium-medium high heat, add a teaspoon of the oil and add a batch of Tofu Spiced dusted tofu. Sauté, adjusting the heat as needed, until each side of the tofu is golden brown and crispy- 3-4 minutes a side.  Place cooked tofu on a wire rack in a sheet pan and repeat, adding more oil as necessary, until all tofu is delicious.
  4. Return a batch of cooked tofu to empty pan, lightly brush each side with Chili-Maple Syrup and adjust heat to get a nice glaze on each side of the tofu; brushing with more syrup as needed until syrup caramelizes and the tofu look amazing.  Return glazed tofu to rack and repeat with remaining batches.  WARNING:  This stuff can be addictive.

PS-Since squash is another Native American food for which we should be thankful, you might even want to skip the tofu and slice up some butternut squash planks- it even looks like salmon! Oven roast the squash at 400, basting with the chili-maple syrup the last few minutes of cooking, and use parchment to keep it from sticking.

If you’re interested in a nice cup of coffee after your meal, check out Thunder Island Coffee Roasters.  If you’re also interested in becoming more involved in supporting Native Americans, check out powwows.com.

Not Much of a Lecture.

Should Someone Have Called Child Protective Services?  While I was reminiscing as I wrote this post, I couldn’t help but smile when I thought of the many “Underdogs” and “Timbers” of your youth.  As you will recall, an “Underdog” was a swinging technique where I would push you on a swing, running underneath you as I held you and the swing until I was clear to let you go over my head, so you could get maximum lift off to start your swinging.  A “Timber” was a swimming technique where I would put you on my shoulders so we could fall off one of the three steps into the pool, yelling “Timber!” as we crashed down into the water like a fallen tree!  It wasn’t until now that I considered just how high up you must have been when we did this- with my 6’2″ height and another few feet for your torsos- we’re talking about 8-9 feet!  I do remember bending my knees a bit and veering off to the side on Underdogs, based on your age and ability and that of the many kids on the preschool playgrounds who clamored for Underdogs as they watched us, although I don’t remember making any such adjustments for Timbers. When I texted you about this to ask you if you were ever scared, I was happy to see “Never!” as your response. Also, I figured mom or one of the other parents would have said something if it wasn’t mostly safe, so we’re good- right?  

Thank Your Mom. I give mom complete credit for your passion in taking up social justice issues.  You see, mom started at a young age demonstrating for change- dressing up for Halloween at age 8 as Bobby Riggs, with a “Male Chauvinist Pig” sign on her back. Mom’s activism continue from there and on to college, where she was part of a sit in demonstration to protest her school’s investments in South Africa. Mom’s compassion and social awareness continues, as part of the many business decisions she makes on a daily basis.  In contrast to me- the only controversial thing I did for Halloween, was to change costumes so I could go back to get more candy from the houses who were giving out Reese’s peanut butter cups. The only protest I took part in during college, was complaining when the dining hall decided to start closing an hour early for Friday dinners. At least today, I have you girls and mom to thank for making me more aware and involved in the important issues of our day.

Keywords: salmon, one dish wonders, Thanksgiving, vegan option, socially aware

© 2020 All rights reserved.  Dad’s Dinner Diary

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